The Grand Junction Lions Club will donate $137,000 to local organizations this year as part of the group's annual carnival and raffle, with more than half of all grants benefiting groups that serve children and young people.

The club received requests for $1.5 million in grant funding this year, said club spokesman Brad McCloud, and while it was tough to make final decisions, grant recipients reflect the group's mission to do the most good for the most people.

The Grand Junction Lions' Club will donate $38,500 to 10 schools in District 51 for new computers, music equipment, sports uniforms, camping gear and books. The School District 51 Foundation matched $25,000 of those grants, bringing the total donation to $63,500.

Scenic Elementary School will receive $5,800 to buy book sets that are designed to help students improve their reading skills, said Principal Ben Alexander.

"I know it's going to do a lot of good for a lot of kids," Alexander said.

The leveled literacy intervention program includes boxes of books at different reading levels that grow more difficult as students read through them. Alexander said they can help students improve reading skills by one to two grades in a year.

Rim Rock Elementary School will receive $10,000 to buy Chromebooks. The school currently has 44 Chromebooks for its more than 600 students, according to Assistant Principal Kim Davis.

"This way we can have technology in the hands of our learners so they are empowered and equipped to meet the future," Davis said. "The more devices we have in the building, where kids have that ongoing access, is going to be really powerful."

The city of Grand Junction will receive $17,000 to help fund the Las Colonias Amphitheater, which "we lovingly refer to as the Grand Junction Lions Club Amphitheater," McCloud said. The Lions Club has donated $300,000 to the project since it started.

Other donations include $15,000 to the Eureka! McConnell Science Museum, $12,000 to the Glade Park Volunteer Fire Department for vehicle bays and water storage, $10,000 to Grand Junction Fire Soccer, $9,000 to Grand Mesa Little League and $7,500 to Mesa County Partners.

Organizations that receive grant funding vary by year, but McCloud said there has been a focus on organizations that benefit children in recent years.

"We all live here. We raise our families here. This is our community and we want to make it as good as we can, and one of the areas we can do that is if we help the next generation," McCloud said. "That's certainly one of the most beneficial things we can do to help the most people."

The grant funding is contingent on the success of the Grand Junction Lions Club Carnival, which takes place Feb. 17.

"We're hoping that we select grant recipients that are not only deserving but compelling enough that the community wants to show their support," McCloud said. "If we pick the right grant recipients, they will come out, buy those raffle tickets and support the carnival."

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